In recent weeks, passenger-filmed videos of confrontations between ticketed, paying customers and airline employees have drawn a lot of attention. It seems to have been been set off by the attention-grabbing footage of 69-year-old David Dao's violent removal from an overbooked United flight earlier this month, with the mega-viral incident motivating people to pull out their smartphones to record any incidents that seem remotely questionable on their flights. In the latest confrontation, a new video making the rounds shows a Delta passenger being kicked off a flight for using the bathroom prior to takeoff, despite his pleas that he couldn't hold it, and thus couldn't make it home on the plane he'd bought a ticket for.
The man in question, according to the Washington Post, is named Kima Hamilton, a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who boarded a flight home from Atlanta, Georgia, on April 18. Although he was reportedly warned against using the plane's bathroom prior to takeoff, Hamilton told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he'd "never had a problem like this before," and believed it was a choice between using the bathroom without permission or peeing through his pants into his seat.
When he returned to his seat after relieving himself, however, he was met with a grim Delta employee who insisted he disembark from the plane. Hamilton says he knew complying with the request meant the flight would leave without him, so he politely-yet-firmly pleaded his case, refusing to get up. You can watch the video of the encounter here.
I haven’t done anything, what have I done? If I can even understand what you’ve been told, we can have a human to human interaction. ... Now I'm confrontational, and now a situation is being created where everyone’s on the plane, and I’m holding the plane up, and I’m just asking to understand why I’m being asked to move.
Hamilton's protests notwithstanding ― he's reportedly an art teacher in Milwaukee, and had to make it home on time to participate in a scheduled field trip ― he was eventually forced to leave the plane at the insistence of a second Delta employee. Just as he suspected, he was not allowed back on, and the plane left without him. Hamilton told CNN's Ashleigh Banfield that he was still "working through the emotions" of what happened:
We weren't in the process of taking off. I am working through the emotions that come with having this experience, you know. It was outrageous.
As USA Today detailed, Delta put out a statement defending the decision to force Hamilton off the flight, citing the need to "ensure the safety and security of all customers." While what Hamilton did was definitely against the rules, the extent of the safety or security risk posed by him not wanting to pee his pants is unclear.
Our flight crews are extensively trained to ensure the safety and security of all customers. It is imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing.
Hamilton's fellow passengers were, by all accounts, sympathetic to his plight, and it's not hard to see why. It's obviously a very embarrassing situation; to have to pee so badly that you either have to disobey airline rules, or make an awful and humiliating mess in the cabin of a commercial plane. And it's a situation that's almost universally relatable. Virtually everyone has at some point known the feeling of being helpless against the demands of the human body, in other words, and thus can understand just how helpless and humiliating Hamilton's experience must have been.